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How to determine fairness in relationships

Being in a relationship is a beautiful thing but at the same time demanding and sometimes hard. There are days that we cannot stand even our own self, imagine having to deal with the emotional luggage of the other person. Also, finding a balance and a sense of fairness in a relationship is very challenging. No one likes to feel exploited or be treated unfairly. In order to determine whether the benefits and costs in a relationship are being given and received fairly, we use three principles or rules.

The first one is the “equality rule”. This principle, that is being used when interacting with friends rather than strangers, says that everyone should receive equal outcomes. Children are more likely than adults to use it because it is the simplest rule.

The second one is the “relative needs” principle. This rule takes account the needs of everyone involved and believes that benefits should be given in response to needs, as need arise, with no strings attached. This principle is illustrated by parents who spend much more money on a sick child who needs it, rather than on a healthy one.

The third one is the “equity” rule, also known as distributive justice. The key idea is that a person’s profits should be proportional to his /her contributions. For example, a child that decides to buy a hat with his friends and pays more than the other children should wear it more often. In this view, equity exists when two or more people receive the same ratio of outcomes to contribution. Equity theory has four basic assumptions which believe that in a relationship or group, individuals try to maximize their outcomes. Also, dyads and groups can maximize their collective rewards by evolving rules or norms about how to divide rewards fairly among everyone concerned. In addition, when individuals perceive that a relationship is inequitable, they feel distressed. The greater the inequity, the greater the distress experienced. And last but not least, individuals who perceive inequity in a relationship will take steps to restore equity.

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